Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh on Thursday spoke exclusively to Editor-In-Chief and Chairman, India TV, Rajat Sharma on TRP (Television Ratings Points) manipulation scandal. Earlier in the day, in a presser addressed by Mumbai Police, it named 3 channels including Republic TV alleging that they were involved in TRP manipulation.
Speaking to Editor-In-Chief and Chairman, India TV, Rajat Sharma on Aaj Ki Baat, Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh said, "We had received a complaint from Hansa Research Group Pvt Ltd that works for BARC for maintenance equipment and measuring TRPs. They complained that some of their ex-employees had stolen their confidential data that is used to measure TRP, at what all places these TRP reading meters were installed... Hansa complained that the ex-employees have stolen this data and were using it together with some channels, they were trying to manipulate TRPs and showing increased TRPs."
Further speaking on this, Mumbai top cop said, "when TRP increases, so does advertising revenue due to which advertisers lose, other channels also lose and this is the complaint that Hansa made to us."
Mumbai top cop continued and said, "On the basis of their complaint, we registered a case under criminal breach of trust IPC section 409 and cheating IPC section 420, started our investigation and arrested two former employees of Hansa. We recovered some money from them and we also got to know that they were using this data, and trying to manipulate TRPs."
Param Bir Singh said that during their investigation, two small channels name surfaced and that the owners of both these channels have been arrested. "... and the third big name that surfaced was of Republic TV and that they were trying to manipulate TRP by aligning with Republic TV. And to increase the TRP, some suspicious trends were noticed by BARC in the Republic TV's viewership and gave names of some suspicious households where some suspicious viewership was witnessed..."
"Further, we tried tracing those members of suspicious households were suspicious viewership was being witnessed and they confirmed that they were given money to keep switch on a specific television... irrespective of whether they were watching or not watching TV... or whether they knew English or not... such means were being used to increase the TRP..."
Param Bir Singh also added, "if there is even a minute difference in a channel's TRP then it affects advertising revenue in crores, leads to loss for advertisers, and other channels..."
Responding to how this information was out that where all these panel homes were located given the fact that this is confidential information, Param Bir Singh said, "As we said that ex-employees of Hansa had the list of where all these TRP measuring metres were installed, they were selling this data to TV channels, they were indulging in TRP manipulation... so some channels were getting this information that where all these barometers were installed."
The Mumbai top cop said that the further investigation on for how long was this manipulation was being done is underway, so far we have received information for a limited period... after analysis of suspicious, unnatural trending that was monitored. The top cop also added that there are names of some other channels that will also be examined and action will be taken according to the evidence against anyone whosoever.
Speaking on Republic TV's claim that BARC complaint does not mention its name, Mumbai Police Commissioner said, "BARC has given us report on suspicious trending, Republic Television, suspicious households, who were questioned by Mumbai Police and they confirmed that they were given money to watch Republic TV, their statements have been recorded and on the basis of all these complaints... further action whether be it summoning of channels officials or any other action, will be taken based on evidence."
Responding to Republic TV's claim that since they questioned Mumbai Police on Sushant Singh Rajput's case and that's why they were being targeted or questioned, Mumbai top cop said, "They never asked me a question, they would have raised questions, our investigation was upheld by Supreme Court... the reports such as hospital or forensic, were approved by AIIMS, this has also surfaced.. also every agency in the country approved our report... so without even knowing our investigation or reports, if people with some vested interests will try to malign or discredit our investigation... but we are not running any campaign, we will act on the evidence that will surface..."
On being asked that Republic TV has said it will continue their investigation on Palghar case or Sushant Singh Rajput's death case, Mumbai Police Commissioner said, "we have not stopped them from doing their work... whatever their conscious (Zameer) permits them, they can run their campaign, run any program, we have no objection to it ..."
Responding to Republic TV's claim that on Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray's direction, Mumbai Police has threatened to shut down Republic Channel, Param Bir Singh said, "We received a complaint from BARC, an agency named Hansa on BARC's behalf have registered complaint... we have no control on BARC and what Mumbai Police has to investigate or not, this does not come from the government... we are a professional agency.. and we take action on the basis of complaints and I assure all that in this case too, we will continue our professional investigation... we haven't targeted anyone and nor we will do it. "
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